Frances Frumin Weiner, 77, of West Hartford, Connecticut, died peacefully at home on Sunday, May 9. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. She leaves a sister, Marlene Schwartz (Richard) of West Bloomfield, Michigan; four children: Jennifer (Bill) of Philadelphia; Molly (Jeff), Jake (Maurine) and Joe (Dixie), all of Los Angeles; a stepson, David in Denver; six grandchildren: Olivia, Lucy, Ben, Phoebe, Emilia and Dottie; her dog, Lincoln; and her loving wife and partner of eighteen years, Clair Kaplan. She also leaves behind three quarts of expired sour cream, fourteen pairs of activity-specific sneakers, and the Sunday New York Times opened and folded to the crossword puzzle. Fran was born on May 22, 1943, in Detroit, Michigan, to Herman and Faye Frumin. She grew up in Detroit, where her independent spirit was evident from an early age. She flaunted her school's dress code (it required skirts; Fran preferred pants or her Halloween cowgirl costume) and loved riding her bike to the library. She graduated from Mumford High School, where she played field hockey, basketball and tennis, a sport she would enjoy for the rest of her life. At the University of Michigan, she majored in anthropology, traveled solo through Mexico and Europe, to the consternation of her parents, who only heard from her when she needed money. After graduation, Fran taught middle school social studies and history in Detroit. She married Lawrence Weiner in 1968 and moved to DeRidder, Louisiana, where Larry served in the Army. In 1973, Fran and Larry moved to Connecticut. They lived in Weatogue and West Simsbury. Fran joined two book clubs, and would maintain her membership for the next forty-plus years. In all those years, she never left a book club book unfinished. Fran loved to swim in lakes and ponds and the ocean. When open water wasn't available, she would do a daily mile-long swim at the West Hartford JCC. You would always know Fran had been there by the cloud of talcum powder on the floor of the ladies' dressing room. When her youngest child started kindergarten, Fran went back to work as a teacher at the Woodstock School and Day Treatment Center, where she taught social studies, history, and occasionally phys ed. to children. Rather than being the stereotypical 'helicopter parent,' Fran was a good-natured zeppelin, floating at a benevolent distance, allowing her children to figure things out for themselves. Fran loved all kinds of music. She introduced her kids to everything from bluegrass to zydeco to klezmer to Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, and took them on trips to see musicals in New York City. She once tried her hand at country music and composed a song called "Stranded on the Sidelines of Life." She was an accomplished cook who taught her children to be adventurous eaters. When Fran would visit her kids at college, she would insist on attending classes with them. She was a student all her life, taking classes at Central Connecticut State University and eventually earning a Master's degree. For years, she would audit classes at Central or the University of Connecticut, expanding her knowledge on subjects from literature to religion to the Middle East. She also attended a weekly discussion group devoted to the New Yorker. Fran was good-natured, cheerful and accepting. She would tell her kids, "It's all material!" an assertion she might have regretted when her oldest daughter grew up to be a novelist. There was no prouder parent than Fran when her daughter published her first novel. Fran accompanied Jenny on book tour, and would happily dispense recommendations during visits to book stores ("Have you read the new Richard Russo? It's great!"). Fran and Larry's marriage ended in 1989. In 1994, Fran fell in love with a woman, thus ensuring that at every family gathering her kids would page through old photo albums, looking for signs and wondering what they'd missed. In 2003, Fran welcomed her first grandchilden, and met the love of her life, Clair Kaplan. Fran retired in 2006. She and Clair would spend eighteen years together, traveling, bickering, going to theater and to museums, hosting parties AND visiting with grandchildren. Fran was an active grandmother, and was always happy to get on her bike or lace up her ice skates or climb on a sled to join her grandchildren, or to take them, swimming, clamming, or hunting for cranberries. Fran will be remembered for her boundless good cheer, her optimism, her serene, accepting attitude, and her distinctive fashion aesthetic, which could be described as "color-blind pre-schooler." She was also famously frugal. Instead of stopping for meals during road trips, she'd pack a cooler full of food, always including hard-boiled eggs, which would fill the car with their sulfurous reek. On outings, she'd pack a "feed bag", its contents included, but were not limited to, several bruised apples, packaged sandwiches that were relics from the school lunches of Fran's teaching days, a jar of peanut butter with a spoon, and at least one unrefrigerated yogurt. Fran traveled the world, from Florida to Belize to Mexico; from Iceland to St. Barth's to Montana to Hawaii, but the Outer Cape was special to her. In 2020, Fran and Clair moved to West Hartford. Fran continued to play bridge and pickleball and attend her book clubs and her classes. During the year of the pandemic, Fran and Clair would Facetime with Emilia and Dottie, reading them Sandra Boynton books. Fran and Clair were finally home enough to adopt a dog and Lincoln, an elderly rescue dog, joined their household. Lincoln enjoyed a life of nonstop affection and romps on the beaches of Truro. He was in Fran's lap or by her side, keeping a watchful vigil during her final days and hours. To honor Fran's memory, please consider a donation to Planned Parenthood or Dog Star rescue, or the charity of your choice
, or remember her when you pet your dog, hug your grandchildren, or read a good book.
Published by Hartford Courant on May 13, 2021.